Archive for December, 2013

Recording New Songs

December 31st, 2013

I spent the last two days recording new material in a secret location in Western Kentucky.

 

A lot of weird synth sounds, experiments with dubstep, samples of esoteric composers like Philip Glass, Charles Ives and Conlon Nancarrow. Car horn (my car, a 1999 Town Car) used in musique concrete, along with untraditional acoustic instruments like bouzouki and klezmer-horn and steampunked-tuba/balalakia.

 

Here are some of the song titles that you may not hear in 2014 because I scrapped the project for being too personally revealing.

 

  • “Let’s Fight Drunk Driving (With Robocop)”
  • “Just Like ‘Just Like Paradise’ by David Lee Roth”
  • “Chicken Woman On TV”
  • “Are You Bleeding? (You Better Not Be Bleeding!)”
  • “Your App Is Wack”
  • “Dragon Dragon”
  • “I am A Cat”
  • “The Price Of Oil On Christmas Day”

 

CONFESSION: Only three of these are titles to real songs. See if you can guess which ones they are.

 

ALSO: None of the real songs on this list were actually recorded. Also none of the experimental stuff I mentioned earlier was done. No car horn, no synths, no dubstep, no steampunk tuba thingamajig. Lies, all lies. I did some recording though, that much is true. I played the piano. Nothing more, nothing less.

Disney Girls (1957)

December 27th, 2013

I am a big Beach Boys fan. Love the Brothers Wilson: Brian, Dennis (R.I.P), and Carl (R.I.P.). I love that little hobbit Alan Jardine. I almost sort of respect the musical contributions of archnemesis Mike Love (almost).

 

the-beach-boys-1970s-onsyw824

 

My favorite line in any Beach Boys song actually comes in a song not written by any of those five original members, but by Bruce Johnston, the guy who filled in for Brian Wilson on the road when Brian retired from touring in the mid-60s to work on writing and producing new material. In 1971, the Beach Boys put out an album called Surf’s Up. By this time, all of the band were contributing songs as Brian had semi-retired into a life of seclusion, mental illness and drug abuse.

 

One of the better songs on Surf’s Up was a Bruce Johnston song called “Disney Girls (1957)”. The rest of the band were pushing toward a more earthy, political message. Sometimes it worked alright, and sometimes they came up with Mike Love’s rewrite of “Riot In Cell Block #9” as “Student Demonstration Time”, which would be the worst Beach Boys song of all time. . . had the band broken up in 1974.

 

Rather than contribute a political diatribe, Bruce Johnston took back the clock and wrote a song about a past far rosier than it could ever really be. A Coca-Cola technicolor nostalgic look at the glorious days of youth. Instead of free-loving hippy chicks, Bruce sings for a girl who’s “really swell, she’s into church bingo chances and old time dances.” He’s singing about somewhere he can’t go, a past that wasn’t really that swell. Retreating. And early on in the song when the drums kick in, he sings my favorite line in any Beach Boys.

 

“Reality, it’s not for me and it makes me laugh.”

 

 

There’s no return to the past and the future isn’t worthwhile without love. The memories are not enough to go on with. You must create new life and have kids that can have their own “Disney Girls” moments to think about when they grow up.

 

Or you can do what I did and sing “Die Alone”. Which is another story.

Let’s Go Get Stoned

December 24th, 2013

I am unnaturally grouchy.

 

These are not good times to be a grouch. Not with holiday gatherings and family dinners and pleasantries. This is not the sort of thing that will do when people are trying to have a good time around you.

 

I’ve gotten so grouchy that I’ve begun to think marijuana isn’t a bad idea after all. Just kidding, everyone. I don’t want to smoke pot. That would be ridiculous.

 

 

But edibles? I’d be down for some edibles right about now. I could use some of Joey Diaz’s banana bread at the moment.

 

This man will be my spirit animal now.

This man will be my spirit animal now.

 

When I was a kid, the school Just Say No and D.A.R.E. always used to warn the kids that drugs would not make their problems go away. Which is true.

 

What they never told you was that many of the problems you will have your in your life will make you feel so powerless that you will eventually look for something to take away how much you worry about them. Hence, drugs and alcohol. Or gambling or pornography or whatever people do to escape.

 

2014 is going to be a personal disaster. I’m counting on it.

My First Porn

December 22nd, 2013

I was seventeen years old the first time I watched a porn video. The year was 1995. One of my high school friends lent me a VHS tape that had a bunch of scenes recorded off the TV.

 

Even before the Internet era, most boys found a way to see porn before the age of seventeen. I’m pretty sure most kids can see porn easier these days, what with the availability of wireless devices. Children see sex before they learn how to tie their shoes now. It doesn’t help that most kids are starting to not learn how to tie their shoes into age twenty-three.

TVH Live at SeaWorld?

December 18th, 2013

Public relations crisis at SeaWorld is growing as some of the biggest names in music are canceling planned appearances at the aquatic theme park in Orlando, Fla. It all centers on the backlash over alleged mistreatment of whales.

 

SeaWorld Orlando entertains thousands of visitors with its annual Bands, Brews, and Barbecue Festival, but less than two months before the series resumes, the park is running into a bit of trouble. Several of the major music acts, including Willie Nelson, R.E.O Speedwagon, Heart, and Martina McBride, are backing out.

 

Some of the performers citing concerns addressed in a new documentary film, Blackfish. The movie documents the 2010 killing of a SeaWorld trainer by an orca whale, and asks serious questions about keeping whales in captivity for entertainment. It aired on CNN in October.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/seaworld-petitions-aimed-at-musical-acts-are-harassment/

 

I get a call the other night from Josh Hines, the drummer for Technology Vs. Horse. He never calls me, usually texts. So this is a bit of a surprise for me.

 

Josh Hines (according to Google images)

Josh Hines (according to Google images)

 

“Did you see the news about these bands cancelling their SeaWorld gigs?”, he asks me.

 

Of course I did. “Martina McBride” is one of my Google News Alerts.

 

Josh says, “I think we oughta go down there and offer to play a gig. At SeaWorld.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes I’m serious!”

 

This doesn’t make any sense to me. Josh Hines is one of the biggest reasons why TVH doesn’t have band dinners, what with his I-don’t-eat-meat-or-fish deal that we respect even though God hates it. Also, he’s a super atheist and the rest of the band happen to believe Jesus Christ is the son of God put on earth to cleanse us of our sins. The band never really hangs out anymore and most of the fault lies with Josh’s militant atheism and snobbery towards eating animal products coupled with our discrimination towards him.

 

I tell him, “You’re gonna be really depressed when you get to SeaWorld and you realize you can’t save all those whales and dolphins.”

“Bullshit! I hate dolphins and whales and sharks. I want to torment them with sound. I’m not even taking my drumkit. I’m gonna take a guitar and amp and plug in and press the amp against the glass and make all the sea creatures weep to death.”

“Wait a minnit, I thought you were against the torture of animals for food or entertainment.”

“This isn’t about food or entertainment, Mike. This is about vengeance.” With that, Josh hung up.

 

This morning at four o’clock, I get a text from him saying “I WANT TO PET A DOLPHIN WIF B BRASS KNUXLES”.

Enjoy Feeling Bad

December 17th, 2013

Music can do so many things to us, no matter what stage of life we are at. Music can really soothe us when we are feeling cold, unloved and rabid. Alternately, sometimes people listen to music that drives them crazy. Music that makes them feel cold, unloved, rabid and vicious. You can’t get lost in a movie like you can good music (or even bad music if you are susceptible to it. . . as proof of this, Kiss have just been nominated to the R’N’R Hall of Fame today). Even the music that you listen to for the purpose of feeling bad must have a good purpose the way you use it. Something inside you trying to get out. You find just the right thing to pull it out of you and FEEL it and maybe even enjoy it a bit.

 

This is where Technology Vs. Horse comes in right now. We are in the gradual process of putting together music for our sixth(!) studio album. Since 2008, we have released three albums with our current lineup. We have tried to make each one better than the one before it. Whether we have succeeded or not is for each listener to decide (and I encourage to you listen for yourselves at http://technologyvshorse.bandcamp.com/ and maybe even kick in a few shekels for the mp3s or a CD or something).

 

Would these men lie to you?

Would these men lie to you?

 

I don’t know how many songs will end up on album six. I don’t know what the name of it will be or what the cover will look like. The five of us have an idea or two but we’re not committed to anything except really making the most WTF experimental heavy music you’ve ever heard from us. There will not be a “White Girls” moment on album six. . . I assume. We haven’t written one yet. Probably won’t either. If you liked our song “Electric Eels”, there might be some more stuff in that vein only way more depressing and horrifying. Are you ready for a whole album of dark, angry experimental rock? That’s what you’re gonna get.

 

Enjoy feeling bad.

 

 

 

 

I Almost Believe In God

December 12th, 2013

I almost believe in God. I actually want to believe but it has been difficult for me, what with all the logic and deductive reasoning and whatnot that contradicts the possibility of a belief.

 

There is something that logic doesn’t account for, and that is the miracle. I want to believe that there is a God because there are miracles that occur in our life that we can’t account for. I’m not talking about the impossible to believe like Jesus turning water into wine. I’m talking about the unlikely but somehow possible that is the musical career of Stevie Wonder.

 

 

Stevie Wonder, blind from birth, learned how to play more musical instruments as a child than most people can name. By twelve, he was a recording star. By age twenty-two, he had negotiated the right to creative autonomy when making his studio albums. By age twenty-six, he had recorded an double-album called Songs In The Key Of Life, which is now in the Library Of Congress.

 

The song above, “Add Day Sucker”, is not on Songs Of The Key Of Life. It was included as part of a bonus EP that came with that album. I don’t know why “All Day Sucker” is not on the proper Songs album. Presumably, the four songs on the bonus EP were not good enough for the proper double-album. Hard to argue. That album has “Isn’t She Lovely” which wasn’t a single.

 

“All Day Sucker” slays me. It is, as you might say, a stone groove. Stevie Wonder plays nearly everything on the track. There is a backup singer and three different guitarists on the track. The rest is all Stevie: drums, synth bass, keyboards, Clavinet, and those vocals.

 

This is a miracle to me. This song wasn’t good enough to be on one of the best albums of all time and it was entirely composed and almost entirely performed in studio by a blind man. I know Prince can play all these instruments and guitar as well, but fuck him because he at least has the gift of sight.

 

Miracles really do happen. They aren’t completely implausible. They seem implausible sometimes.

 

Why are you looking at me like that?

Why are you looking at me like that?

 

My Top 5 Albums Of The Year!!!

December 11th, 2013

1. Kanye West “Yeezus”

 

 

I’ve been really not feeling like myself lately. It is almost as if life takes place all around me and I’m in a dead zone. Where has the passion in my life gone? How can you live without passion, without zeal for something? Anything? Someone on my Twitter feed wrote that if you lead a passionless existence, you’re dying a slow death.

 

2. Daft Punk “Random Access Memories”

 

 

I really don’t like the sun. That is a strange thing to admit out loud. But I need the sun. Everyone needs it. Even on a cold day, when the sun is out you feel that POW! of sunshine. It’s good for me. It’s a natural sort of pick-me-up. I’m too depressed to really appreciate the sun for what it does for people.

 

3. Miley Cyrus “Bangerz”

 

 

Losing interest in personal interaction. Disappearing into my own brain. No one cares. I don’t even care that much, to be honest.

 

4. Lady Gaga “ARTPOP”

 

Every now and then I want to cry out. I WANT TO BE LOVED! I’M JUST LIKE YOU! I feel out of place in the world. Perhaps I’m hiding. Just another consumer slowly dying like all the others. I see the through the illusion of our societal norms and yet that does not comfort me.

 

5. David Bowie “The Next Day”

 

 

I don’t know how to love. I don’t even love myself. How is that even possible? What is there to look forward to? Excitement has been replaced by dread. Sometimes I think I oughta let someone bash me in the skull with a hammer until blood and brain sprays everywhere. Just lay down like it’s guillotine time and take the hammer and sing all the songs from my favorite albums of the year.

Kilmer-Twain Watch!

December 8th, 2013

Not that long ago, I wrote about the abortion that is Val Kilmer’s one-man show Citizen Twain, and its’ upcoming appearance at the Ryman in Nashville.

 

And people think Nashville gets all the good entertainment.

 

I had to see how tickets were selling for this event, so I went to check Ticketmaster. You may not be surprised to find that tickets are still available. The Ryman has a capacity of 2,362. There are still a little over 1700 tickets available.

 

For contrast, Amy Schumer will play the Ryman a month after Val Kilmer’s what-have-you. Plenty of time to get a seat, tickets cost a bit less. Kilmer’s bottom out at $57, while Schumer’s top at $45. Schumer’s tickets also went on sale a week after Kilmer’s.

 

Tally of tickets sold as of Dec. 8th= Schumer 693, Kilmer 656.

 

I’m going to revisit this as the weeks progress because I think the booking of Citizen Twain is bizarre. Prediction is that Schumer will probably sell increasingly steady while Kilmer has topped out. I’d be shocked if 1,000 people pay full price for a ticket to see Val Kilmer as Mark Twain.

 

I’m probably missing out on some factors here. This is not over!

Video Genre: Awkward Europe TV Lip-Sync

December 4th, 2013

 

Queen “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy” (1977, UK)

The BBC had a rule that bands couldn’t lip-sync their single on TV. However, they were allowed to re-record the song and lip-sync to that. That’s why this version sounds slightly different from the one you can buy commercially. Freddie doesn’t even care enough to continue playing piano from the third verse onward even though piano is clearly audible, and Brian shakes his head in disgust at a flubbed note in a solo even though it’s a lipsync. That takes talent, folks.

 

 

Boney M “Ma Baker” (Germany. 1977)

Why is this awkward? Well, two members of the band aren’t actually singers to start with. This is a proto-Milli Vanilli, with the male dancer miming to lyrics performed by producer Frank Farian (who would later attempt to foist MV on the world). More awkward in retrospect.

 

 

Abba “Voulez Vous” (1979, Spain)

Frida and Agnetha look like they are ready for aerobics. The guitarist looks like Roman Polanski with a blonde wig. I have never been sure which two were married to who. For all I know the men were married to each other.

 

 

Buggles “Video Killed The Radio Star” (Germany, 1979)

If this had been the video for that song, Todd Rundgren would have had the first video played on MTV instead.

 

 

 

Sparks “When I’m With You” (1980, France)

In a video where a bunch of people walk in and out of a sex shop, the two men in suits with the synthesizer somehow end up being the creepiest people. None of the perverts even think to toss them a mark for their trouble.

 

 

Kiss “I Love It Loud” (1982, Germany)

The audience looks baffled and mildly amused. Note that Kiss are not using the famous lightning “S” in their logo. These were banned in Germany after WWII. At least two members of Kiss are Jewish. The fog machine is really cheap looking. My favorite part is when they reveal a second set of microphones on stands further up the stage for the final chorus.

 

 

Jethro Tull “Broadsword” (1982, Germany)

The great punchline comes about 3:43 after the song fades out. It’s great to watch Ian Anderson go through his usual jester shenanigans (the rest of the band is dressed similarly but he’s the only one really committed to it) and hearing how shitty the Jethro Tull sound came across in the synthy early 80’s. These are the dreams Spinal Tap are made of.

 

Billy Idol “Eyes Without A Face” (1984, UK)

A Top Of The Pops performance where they didn’t even bother to bring in a backing band. Just Steve Stevens on axe and a backup singer. Billy flubs the lyrics. He looks blasted out of his skull on drugs. Imagine how shitty it would be to be booked on this and be told your song was ranked 33rd.